It has been sometime since the last post – much has happened. At least four/five sessions have taken place, two of those were individual sessions; dealing with Sibillia and Jurgen Noffein. So much has happened that it would need at least two or three blog lengthy blog posts to cover everything. Rather than spread it all out over a few posts (and spend a considerable amount of time writing) I will sum up the events that have transpired without my usual detailed account. However, I will detail the key moments. I’ll try and do this in 2 parts.
On another note: the campaign chapter of The Power Behind The Throne has come to an end! We will be taking a break until January next year, when we will pick up from where we left off. The Enemy Within Campaign is not finished yet… However, in November (hopefully) we will be starting a mini-Chaos campaign, a custom one of my own making. It will be at least 2-3 sessions long, and I will be detailing that on here as well.
When we last saw Jurgen Noffein, he was in the temple quarters under guard while staying within his old teacher’s room, Klemet. He had learned earlier that the Ar-Ulric had passed… Emil Valgeir was now hunting with his wolf-kin in the Eternal Forest. The Denfather had told Noffein that his sacrifice was not in vain… he had saved Volkmar’s life. Alas, his own was claimed.
That deeply upset Noffein; leaving him to meditate all night in Klemet’s room as he pondered what this meant for him. The Ar-Ulric was the only one who could vouch for him… Now he was dead.
He had told the Denfather of the betrayal of Wolf Lord Brunner as well. The Denfather listened carefully and weighed his accusations against the evidence, of which there was none. Normally such an accusation against a senior ranking priest such as a Wolf Lord by a initiate would have no merit, and simply be discarded especially lacking any sort of evidence. But… Jurgen Noffein had the Ar-Ulrics ring, which meant he had his trust. That alone set in motion for what would be his greatest challenge yet.
Morning had come, and he was marched off to the Star Chamber; where the most serious of heresies and accusations are heard and judged upon. It did not escape the damage from the collapse of the temple; Ulric’s temple was not like any ordinary temple, often bearing similarities to that of a castle keep. Certainly a well fortified structure. So when it collapsed, battlements, brick and mortar, had fallen far and wide across the breath of the whole compound, damaging nearly every structure within. The Star Chamber had fortunately escaped the majority of such damage, with only the side walls slightly damaged. The glassed domed structure that lay at the top however, and perhaps the most expensive feature of this building, was smashed in.
As Jurgen stepped inside following the Denfather, he saw glass litter the centerpiece of the floor.
But it wasn’t the glass that took his attention; it was who was present.
– Wolf Lord Brunner
Brunner was here. Course he was… and he reacted with subdued surprise at Jurgen’s appearance. Jurgen did not look at him; instead he directed his focus south.
There, he saw another Wolf Lord, one who he had never met before.
– Wolf Lord Markyn Maddox
He was accompanied by two venerable wolves, as was Wolf Lord Brunner. Brunner stood to the eastern point of the building, while Maddox stood at the south. Jurgen did not look at Maddox directly, but rather at the wall behind him. He was clearly nervous and unsure as to how this would go down.
To the western point, there stood two members of the White Wolves. Perhaps indicating that the Grandmaster should be here; but he wasn’t.
The doors closed and the Denfather took position at the northern point. Jurgen was indicated to step into the middle of the chamber.
“What is the meaning of this Denfather? I hope you have a good reason for summoning me here. For surely you know many of our brothers lay trapped beneath the temple who need our aid… and now I find myself trapped in this… whatever this is.” Maddox had broken the silence with his disapproval.
The Denfather replied, “I ask for your patience, Lord Maddox. You are here to bear witness to something that requires our immediate attention. I would not summon you, or Lord Brunner, if it was not important. You will want to hear what this initiate has to say. It concerns our great temple, which now lies in ruins. You may speak Noffein.”
Jurgen took a moment, making a silent prayer to Ulric before he spoke, which only tested the patience of Lord Maddox. “Out with it pup.”
Wolf Lord Brunner had continued to remain silent.
Jurgen began to explain the events that would unfold. Nothing went amiss. It was slow but methodical. and at several points during his explanation, he tested the patience of Maddox more than once, who had to be asked to remain patient by the Denfather.
Jurgen had withheld any mention of names up to this point, other than mentioning that a Wolf Lord was responsible for what happened at the temple. It was not until he mentioned Wolf Lord Brunner as being directly responsible for what took place, that Brunner finally spoke up, and his rage was felt throughout the chamber.
“This is an outrage! Liebnitz! This is why you summoned me? So that my honour gets put into question, by this… this whelp! To dare accuse me of such treason, it is unthinkable!”
Maddox speaks up, “I agree with Lord Brunner. This is not only insulting to him, but to me as well. It is beyond madness to suggest a Wolf Lord could have done this. No! It is madness to suggest that an Ulrican could have done this! You allowed this pup to speak in our presence and to insult one of our own!”
The Denfather slams his staff onto the ground, as he once did in the temple to gain the attention of all those around him. “I understand your concerns. Under normal circumstances, you would be right, and I would offer up my apologies. But these are not normal circumstances. Initiate Noffein came to me in the temple of Ulric, bearing the signet ring of the Ar-Ulric. I have that ring here. Not only did he come to warn me of the impending collapse, but he had done so by the Ar-Ulrics command.”
That brought silence, and even Lord Brunner was unsure how to challenge that.
Maddox spoke up, “Is this true boy?”
Noffein nodded, acknowledging it. Maddox took a fleeting glance at Brunner, before saying, “I will listen then. Continue.”
Noffein continued, speaking of how Brunner met him in the Winter Gardens, how he fought and how a miracle brought him back. Jurgen had no recollection of that miracle from Ulric, but he could sense it all the same… Something very strange happened in those gardens, he was sure of it.
It was not long before Brunner spoke up again, protesting his innocence loudly. “I have served this temple for many years. I have faithfully served Ulric all my life. I have fought alongside Emil, the very man that this liar says I killed. Emil was my friend. He was my brother. He was like family. I cannot tell you how much this angers me! I demand justice for these lies! I demand a trial by combat!”
“I accept your challenge!” Noffein shouted out back at Brunner, still refusing to look at him.
“How can you accept when you can’t even look at me!”
Noffein turned to stare straight at the Wolf Lord.
The Denfather called for calm… “It is our way. It is the only way to solve this.”
The south-west door to the chamber opened up, followed by the words, “O how the wolves howl before a storm…”
Grandmaster Rein Volkhard had made his appearance.
“You grace us with your appearance, Grandmaster. And you are late.” Maddox had boldly stated.
Rein Volkhard simply turned this head in the direction of Maddox for him to follow that up with, “But your appearance is most welcome. This young pup has brou-“, “I’m aware,” Volkhard had stated as he made his way into the chamber, and taking position in front of the two White Wolves.
The Denfather had looked over and asked, “Did the Arch-Lector Kaslain have any insight to share?”
“The Ar-Ulric had made a confession upon his dying breath. A confession heard only by Volkmar. The Sigmarites treat confessions as sacred. Nothing was gained.”
“That is most unfortunate,” replied the Denfather.
Noffein had made it public knowledge within the Star Chamber concerning the Ar-Ulrics broken vow, but this was quickly glossed over in light of the more serious accusations at hand.
“A challenge has been put forward by Lord Brunner, to initiate Noffein. A trial by combat. Both have accepted,” the Denfather explained to the Grandmaster.
Jurgen turned to the Grandmaster, and knelt down; praying to Ulric in preparation for his fight. Lord Brunner, not wanting to be upstaged by this show of faith, did the same.
Volkhard gave Noffein a cold stare, but it was brief, as he turned his attention to Brunner. Then to the Denfather as he spoke, “Lord Brunner has every right to defend his name, but the young pup has every right to a fair fight. I do not take away his courage in accepting Lord Brunner’s challenge. Yet he harbors wounds that are still fresh.”
The Grandmaster’s words give the Denfather a thought to ponder. “It is not unprecedented, but it is rare. There is allowance for the initiate to request for a champion to fight on his behalf, if Lord Brunner agrees.”
“I do not agree. I will fight him. I’ve accepted his challenge…” Jurgen had said, as he rose up from his feet. Brunner seemed quite pleased at that.
“Then so be it. May Ulric give strength to one who bears the truth,” uttered the Denfather.
The fight started.
Brunner came in fast and brutal, headbutting Jurgen and giving him a solid knee into his mid-section. Both men fought ferociously like animals, and for a moment, it seemed that Brunner was on the cusp of victory. Jurgen had been battered and smothered; Jurgen was young and physically fit; Brunner was physically imposing yet advanced in years, yet none of that seemed to make a difference as Brunner’s prowess in battle was well above Jurgen’s own. Jurgen knew that he could not win in a straight up fight against Brunner.
But Brunner had thought him a good lesson in their last fight…
Rather than trying to fight Brunner directly, Jurgen tried to wrestle him, getting behind him and getting a hold on Brunner. Brunner did not make it easy, and at this point Jurgen was already winded and heavily battered and bruised.
But when he got behind Brunner, and managed to get a chokehold in, he used all his weight to brace him onto the floor and hold him there, choking the life out of him.
Yet still Brunner fought on. He was strong. But not strong enough. Jurgen maintained his chokehold, Brunner would not relent until he was nearly gasping for breath that he uttered, “I confess… I confess….” it was a whisper, and only Jurgen heard it. Jurgen shouted out “He wishes to confess!”
“Let me go and I’ll confess!” Brunner shouted out more loudly.
Jurgen suspected treachery, but the Denfather made it clear when he said, “Release him Noffein. Ulric frowns upon those who deceive. He will not try anything, and if he does….”
Noffein released him, as Brunner crawled forward, gasping for air.
He stood up, as did Jurgen. Jurgen knew that he was in no condition to fight Brunner again, and having released his grip, he’d easily lose any fight should Brunner attack him.
And attack him he did. Betraying his very word in front of all those present, Brunner, in a rage, shouted, “I confess nothing!” and charged at Jurgen, pushing him to the ground. Brunner was on top now, raging as he pounded away on Jurgen, his fists connecting with Noffeins jaw.
But only a few hits had landed before Brunner was picked up by the scruff of his neck, and tossed across the star chamber. Grandmaster Volkhard had intervened.
Brunner had realized he was undone… his rage had betrayed him.
Volkhard reached out and helped Noffein up, before taking position behind the pathetic image of Wolf Lord Brunner, on the floor, kneeling and crying. “I beg for mercy! I beg for forgiveness!” he cried.
“You betrayed the faith! You betrayed Ulric! You betrayed the Ar-Ulric!” shouted Jurgen.
Maddox could barely look upon Brunner, disgusted at how low he had become.
“I did it to save us! Our faith is dying! I di-” with a swing of his mighty sword, Rein Volkhard had beheaded the Wolf Lord in mid-sentence.
He turned to face those present, “Don’t let what happened here be forgotten. Let it be a reminder less we forget the shame that has been wrought upon us this day.”
Jurgen had made a bold request before the Grandmaster took his leave, “Grandmaster… May I… May I take something from the Wolf Lord. My friend, Wolfgar, had died because of him. I promised him that I would bring him something belonging to the one who betrayed us.”
Volkhard gave Noffein a cold hard look, “No. The wolf does not eat the wolf.” He left the star chamber, followed by the two white wolves.
Later that day, Noffein had climbed the ruins of the rubble that remained of the temple. He was accompanied by Sibillia, who aided him and gave him much needed support.
Something special was about to happen… Kneeling down in front of the Eternal Flame, which despite all the ruin and destruction that lay around them, it continued to burn.
In the presence of the Denfather, Jurgen Noffein put his hand into the flames, and said the holy words:
- I Jurgen Noffein
- Do solemnly swear before the almighty Ulric
- Lord of Wolves, Battle & Winter
- That I shall endeavor throughout all seasons
- To uphold his holy strictures
- To preach, to receive & to convert
- To defend the faith where threatened
- To him our Lord, I offer up my body
- May he instill within me his courage
- And may I honour his name.
Jurgen removed his hand from the fire; despite all the pain he had gone through, the burning sensation was nothing more than a passing thought. His hand bore the marks of the Eternal Flame.
Denfather Liebnitz signaled for him to stand.
“You knelt as a pup. Now rise as a Wolf-Born.”